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The Little-Known Ant Pests That Commonly Nest In Woodwork And Inflict Painful Bites

The Little-Known Ant Pests That Commonly Nest In Woodwork And Inflict Painful Bites

The Crematogaster genus is comprised of numerous ant species, many of which are considered biting and wood-damaging structural pests. Worker ants from this genus vary from 2.5 mm to 4 mm, and their unusually large heads make them somewhat recognizable. Their heads range in color from reddish-brown to black, and most species possess dark or black colored bodies. Crematogaster ants rarely nest in soil below the ground; instead, these ants prefer to establish nests in moisture-damaged wood sources above the ground, most notably within tree stumps, logs, posts, and at the base of dead and decaying trees. Occasionally, these establish nests in moist structural wood within homes, and they are particularly abundant in urban and suburban habitats where multiple Crematogaster species are known pests that are commonly referred to as “acrobat ants,” and “cocktail ants.” These common names derive from their strange habit of raising or “cocking” their gaster (bulbous rear body segment) above their head when they become threatened.

Due to their need for moisture, Crematogaster ants are most abundant in the humid southeast, but several Crematogaster species can be found throughout Arizona, including the two most pestiferous species, C. cerasi and C. lineolata. C. cerasi workers are reddish-brown and they frequently nest within wood on roofs, wood siding, structural wood in ceiling and wall voids, door and window frames, and wooden porches. Workers are known for being aggressive and they emit an unpleasant odor when disturbed. C. lineolata workers are the same color as C. cerasi workers, with the exception of some yellowish colored individuals. Like most species in this genus, C. lineolata workers emit a foul odor when disturbed, but unlike many of their close relatives, C. lineolata workers aggressively bite humans. While C. cerasi prefers to feed on live and dead insects, C. lineolata workers seek out human food sources, especially sweets and meat, making them common within pantries and kitchen cupboards. Both species tend to establish nests within existing cavities in wood that had already been excavated by other insect species, such as termites and carpenter ants.

Have you ever sustained ant bites within your home?

 

 

 

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Everything Arizona Residents Need To Know About The Two Most Economically Significant Carpenter Ant Pests That Commonly Infest Homes In The State

Everything Arizona Residents Need To Know About The Two Most Economically Significant Carpenter Ant Pests That Commonly Infest Homes In The State

Carpenter ants are structural pests that are commonly found infesting homes throughout the US. Two carpenter ant species, C. modoc and C. vicinus, are considered economically significant pests in Arizona. The former species is commonly known as the “western black carpenter ant,” while the latter species has not been given a common name. Carpenter ant workers are well known for invading homes from outdoor nests that are located within close proximity to foundation walls, but many infestations see workers establish one or more indoor nesting sites after initially invading a home from a single primary or “parent nest.” Parent nests are always located outdoors within a dead, moist and decayed natural wood source, such as tree hollows, stumps, logs, fallen branches and wood piles.

After leaving a parent nest, carpenter ant workers are known to travel unusually long distances along uniform foraging trails before establishing secondary or “satellite nests” within homes. This is why it is not uncommon for a parent nest to be located as far as 40 to 60 feet away from satellite nests within homes, but parent nests are often found in wood sources located in the yards of the homes that they infest. In many infestation cases, workers will not establish an indoor nest, but will instead invade homes in search of sweet-tasting food sources, making them common pests of foods stored within pantries and cupboards. However, carpenter ants get their common name for their destructive habit of establishing satellite nests within moist and decayed structural wood where they excavate tunnels, eventually causing infested structural wood to become hollow and weak. Satellite nests are also commonly found within wall voids, ceiling voids, and even attic spaces, as workers are known for accessing homes through attic vents by crawling along tree branches that make contact with roofs or exterior walls. Both C. modoc and C. vicinus are easily recognizable pest species due to their relatively large size, which ranges from ¼ to a little more than ½ of an inch in length, and the former is black while the latter is black or reddish in color.

Have you ever found carpenter ants infesting your kitchen?

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The Very Common Indoor Ant Pest That Is Often Mistaken For The Argentine Ant

The Very Common Indoor Ant Pest That Is Often Mistaken For The Argentine Ant

One of the most common ant pest species in southern Arizona, Iridomyrmex pruinosus, or Forelius pruinosus, as the species is known today, is often mistaken for the highly pestiferous Argentine ant species. Argentine ants are common ant pests in most southern states, but they are relatively less abundant in Arizona. F. pruinosus, on the other hand, is consistently the first or second most commonly encountered ant species by pest control professionals in residential areas of Phoenix. This pest species is also among the top 5 most commonly encountered ant pest species in residential areas of Tucson. While this ant pest does not inflict venomous stings to humans, F. pruinosus workers invade homes in large numbers, and eradicating infestations is exceedingly difficult, even for professionals.

DYI pest control techniques will usually not suffice to eliminate F. pruinosus infestations, and most infestation victims do not bother with such techniques after seeing the overwhelming number of ants an infestation entails. Although F. pruinosus colonies are not as large as Argentine ant colonies, the former occasionally nests within houses, while the latter sees workers invade homes from outside nests. In most F. pruinosus infestation cases, the workers invade homes from nests located near the foundation and at the surface of soil beneath concrete slabs. Nests are also frequently found in exposed soil and obscured beneath objects like stones, leaf litter, patios, wood piles, logs, and around stumps. This species is abundant throughout the southeast and in much of the southwest, but specimens collected from these two areas look markedly different from one another. Southeastern species are usually dark, while southwestern species see workers come in a variety of shades and colors, but most are light in color. Workers are relatively small at only around 1.8 to 2 mm in length regardless of their geographic location, and they form uniform foraging trails that lead into homes from outside nests. When crushed, F. pruinosus secrete a fluid that smells strongly of rotten coconut, not unlike the odor produced by the aptly named odorous house ant species.

Have you ever experienced an infestation that consisted of an unusually large number of ant pests?

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Is There A Difference Between The Longhorn Crazy Ant And The Tawny Crazy Ant? Are Both Of These Pests Found In Arizona?

Crazy ants are pretty easy to recognize due to their habit of running around aimlessly when disturbed, making their movements appear “crazy” and erratic. There are a number of different species of “crazy” ants, including the longhorn crazy ant and the tawny crazy ant. There are slight differences between the species, but they are all invasive insect pests that can drive homeowners crazy when they infest homes.

These invasive pests are not native to the U.S., but have established a presence all over the country as well as the rest of the world. Longhorn crazy ants are native to Asia, while tawny crazy ants originate from South America. While both species have the distinguishing feature of their antennae and legs being longer than their bodies proportionally, longhorn crazy ants are dark brown to black in color, while tawny crazy ants are a reddish-brown color. Both are serious nuisance pests, and will occasionally bite while curving their abdomen forward and secreting formic acid into the bite wound. Both species will invade and form colonies in a wide range of indoor and outdoor environments and are attracted to many types of food, including sweets, grease, and animal matter just to name a few.

Longhorn crazy ants form relatively small colonies of up to 2,000 workers and multiple queens. Longhorn crazy ants clone their queen and her mates in order to reproduce faster. This can result in several interconnected colonies existing, creating much larger infestations. They also have mobile colonies, and have a tendency to suddenly abandon one nest site and move to another. This can all make eliminating infestations much more complicated. Tawny crazy ants form huge colonies, with some growing to reach billions of tawny crazy ants per acre. They also have a tendency to tend and even protect aphids, making them a large threat to agricultural crops and gardens. Both are well known for damaging electrical equipment. Tawny crazy ants have the ability to protect themselves from fire ant venom by covering their bodies in formic acid, causing them to even displace fire ants in some places, causing problems in the local ecological system.

You can certainly find both the longhorn and the tawny crazy ant in Arizona. Longhorn crazy ants are found throughout the United States. Tawny crazy ants are a problem throughout the south, including Arizona. Homeowners in Arizona should watch out for infestations of both the longhorn and tawny crazy ant.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of either of these “crazy” ants?

 

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Which Ant Pests Are Able To Establish Colonies Within Arizona Homes?

Several insect species in Arizona are considered pests within human dwellings, but not all insect pest species in the state are able to survive and reproduce within homes for indefinite periods of time. This is the case when it comes to seasonal insect house pests, such as boxelder bugs, elm leaf beetles, and cluster flies. These insect pests invade homes in large numbers during the fall in order to overwinter, but they are unable to reproduce indoors, and unless they eventually re-establish an outdoor presence, they will perish within homes. However, the most common and pestiferous insect pests commonly found in Arizona homes, like cockroaches, termites, house flies, bed bugs, carpet beetles, and many ant species, establish reproductive populations indoors. These insect pests are able to establish lasting indoor infestations that can be difficult to eradicate.

Some of the most common ant pests in Arizona that are able to establish indoor nests that contain reproductive queens include southern fire ants, thief ants and carpenter ants. Most indoor nesting ant pests species, such as southern fire ants and carpenter ants, can only establish thriving indoor colonies if they establish nests within moist areas. Unlike southern fire ants, carpenter ants establish nests within moist structural wood within homes, but just like southern fire ants, carpenter ants usually establish nests outside of wood within moist wall voids in bathrooms, around plumbing and near water heaters. These two pests also feed on indoor food sources. Of course, indoor thief ants must also be well hydrated in order to thrive within homes, but these pests tend to nest indoors in order to regularly feed on a variety of human food sources. These food sources include meats, cheeses and grease. While all these ant pests, and the majority of others, are able to nest indoors, they may also nest within soil and damp tree hollows located near the foundation of homes. In these cases, ant pests enter homes from outside nests solely to seek water and human food sources.

Have you ever experienced pest issues with southern fire ants?

 

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The Nuisance Dark Rover Ant Species Swarms Year Round In Arizona Where They Are Among The Most Commonly Encountered Insect Pests Within Homes

The Nuisance Dark Rover Ant Species Swarms Year Round In Arizona Where They Are Among The Most Commonly Encountered Insect Pests Within Homes

A few ant species belonging to the Brachymyrmex genus have been documented as household pests in the southern US where they are often referred to as rover ants. The non-native rover ant species, B. musculus, is one of the most commonly encountered ant pests in homes located in Phoenix and Tucson. In recent years, another non-native rover ant species, Brachymyrmex patagonicus, has become a common household pest in the southeastern states. In addition to the southeast, this species has also managed to establish a habitat in southern Arizona. This species is commonly known as the dark rover ant, and they have frequently been found infesting homes in Tucson and Phoenix, but they are strangely absent from all other areas in the state.

Dark rover ants are nuisance pests in homes located in Tucson and Phoenix, and they often establish nests within concealed indoor areas, but some infestation cases see foraging workers invade homes in large numbers from nests located in yards. These ants also swarm into houses all year round in Tucson, but swarmers emerge only during the spring and summer months in all other US locations where they have become established. Obviously, dark rover ants exhibit many peculiar pest behaviors in southern Arizona, and unsurprisingly, researchers know very little about the biology and foraging habits of these species.

In Tucson and Phoenix, dark rover ants establish nests within soil located below leaf litter, mulch, firewood, and around tree stumps in residential yards and urban parks. These ant pests become particularly abundant on irrigated lawns due to their need for large amounts of water. Many residents have noticed that dark rover ants tend to establish nests in wall voids located in bathrooms and kitchens where running water provides the pests with adequate moisture. Dark rover ants invade homes in large numbers during particularly hot and dry periods during the summer, which is also when nests are most likely to become established indoors.

Have you found ants in or around swimming pools during the summer in recent years?

 

 

 

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The Native Southern Fire Ant Is An Aggressive Species That Inflicts Painful Stings And Infests Homes, And At Least One Envenomation Incident Resulted In Death

The Native Southern Fire Ant Is An Aggressive Species That Inflicts Painful Stings And Infests Homes, And At Least One Envenomation Incident Resulted In Death

The S. xyloni ant species is one of three fire ant species found in Arizona, the others being S. aureus and S. amblychila. The red-imported fire ant is the most well known fire ant species in the United States, and while this species is invasive in the US, many people are surprised to learn that some fire ants are native to the US, one of which is the S. xyloni species. The S. xyloni fire ant species is commonly referred to as the “southern fire ant,” and this species can be recognized by their dark reddish-brown exterior that is covered in golden hairs.

Like other fire ant species, the southern fire ant often inflicts damage to lawns which can sometimes be costly for homeowners. When fire ants infest a lawn their unsightly dirt mounds become a conspicuous part of the landscape, and southern fire ant nests can also become established indoors. Much like red imported fire ants, southern fire ants will emerge out of their nests in large numbers if they become distrubed. These ants will not hesitate to climb onto a person’s body before inflicting numerous stings, which can be fatal to those with an allergy to arthropod venoms. These ants can also establish indoor infestations that can pose both a medical risk to a home’s inhabitants as well as a nuisance. The southern fire ant prefers to establish colonies within lawns where grass is stressed and dry, making them a prominent species in southern Arizona. This species can also establish nests within wall-voids, below carpeting, and in crawl spaces, and colonies can grow to contain 10,000 individual ants. While anaphylaxis does not often occur in response to southern fire ant stings, this species was believed to have caused the death of a three month old baby after the ant pests invaded a day care center.

Have you ever experienced a fire ant infestation either indoors or outdoors?